Are you aware of the difference between extrication and decarceration? Do you want to know more about how to become a race marshal? Today I've met with Andrea, who covers the role at the Italian Grand Prix, to find out. Additionally, we went for a road trip with his stunning Ferrari F355 Berlinetta to Modena and Maranello, where the Ferrari magic happens.
Andrea, what does it take to become a race marshal?
"Here in Italy, you have to take a three-day course at your local Automobile Club, then you have to take a final test. Once passed, you are eligible to be called to any event taking place at the Autodromo and abroad too. We are all volunteers, but we do receive a small reimbursement which should cover travel and food expenses."
Is it a particularly time-consuming job?
"During the year, I am usually called for ten events at the Autodromo. Of course, you give your availability at the start of the season, clearly indicating the days when you would be free to come. Once you are called, you have to attend a pre-race briefing (for the Italian GP, this happens on Tuesday) where the Race Direction discloses a full timetable of the event, not available to the general public and specific regulatory additions for the race. Usually, the Race Director goes through the previous year's highlights, to indicate what's been good and what can be improved."
What is your responsibility as a race marshal?
"We have to take care of the drivers' and of the audience's well-being. Our priorities are clear: we have to safeguard our own lives, then the drivers', then the audience's. The car comes last. During the Italian GP there are 260 marshals divided in various marshalling sectors and posts, each one of them having a Head Marshal. To that, you have to add firefighters, medical personnel and extrication teams, making it 600 people around the track. If you are marshalling in the pit lane, during some competitions you are assigned one or two boxes: your job is to check if any infringement of the Sporting Regulations is undergoing. For obvious reasons, only expert marshals are assigned to this post."
What do you do if an accident happens in your sector?
"The first thing we do is checking the driver's health conditions. We are under no circumstances allowed to touch him or her: if they cannot come out of the car on their own, medical personnel and extrication or decarceration teams must be called. These last two teams intervene in different events, the first being involved in GPs and single-seater competitions, while the latter are called for GT competitions. As the name suggests, a decarceration team's job is slightly different: if the rollbar is deformed in the accident or collision, it can literally form a cage around the driver. Their procedure is highly technical, that's why marshal do not perform it."
What about communication with the Race Direction as regards flags and Safety Cars?
"All communication is made between the Head Marshal and Race Direction. We are not allowed to use the black and white flag (warning a driver about unsportsmanlike behaviour) and the black flag (disqualification). We can use the red flag (session stopped) only if told so by the Race Direction."
Thank you for your precious insight, Andrea. Tell me more about your stunning F355 Berlinetta.
Photo: Derek Cornelissen
"I have acquired this beauty four years ago: it took me a while to find exactly what I was looking for, since I wanted a stock model, without any kind of tuning or modification. The V8 engine this car carries is one of the best Ferrari has ever produced, and its sound is amazing. What I really like about Ferrari is that you are always a top-class cliente to them, whether you've bought a 488 Pista or not. This car is a true pleasure to drive around, especially since I'm a former rally driver. I never take her to the Fiorano circuit, because I know I might get the temptation of joining the competition again!"
Written by Aurora Dell'Agli.